December 29, 2011

Ask The Vixen: Body Odor in Vintage Clothing

Actual emails from customers. Send us your clothing care quandary!

Q: I have a 1950s suit jacket that is smelly from someone's use. Should I use Febreze
on it? I have dry cleaned it, but the stain is still there.

A: You wrote that you have a 1950s suit jacket with body odor. Since you have already dry cleaned the jacket, it's important to know whether the cleaners steamed the jacket dry or heat-dried it in any way. If they did, the odor is probably set, even more so than by the amount of time the odor was left in the fabric.

If there has not been any heat setting, and if the jacket is washable, try some long soaks with baking soda in water, or with a pre-packaged odor neutralizer (like Stain Devils) from the grocery. I haven't used Febreze myself, but you may have luck with it as well. Just remember that Febreze would likely leave residue on the sprayed surface, which itself could become a stain with time.

If the jacket is not washable, you can place it inside a closely fitting container alongside an open box of baking soda, or an unsealed plastic bag of charcoal. Then stow it away for a few weeks with the lid closed, and evaluate the odor afterward. Just make sure the baking soda/charcoal isn't easily jostled as it could stain if it contacts the fabric.